Mobile Linux growth is accelerating, but mobile Linux standards have
not kept pace until now. The Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum is finally ready to
announce its 1.0 specification, or at least part of it.
The first version of LiPS 1.0 includes the LiPS Reference
Model, Address Book and Voice Call Enabler, and User Interface Services
(which is made up of widget sets, key navigation and text input method
APIs). The second part of LiPS 1.0 is set for the end of 2007 and will
include additional telephony, messaging, calendar, IM, and API
“There has been an interesting dynamic in the last 18 months where Linux has
surged forward as a leading OS for mobile phones,” Bill Weinberg, general
manager of LiPS told internetnews.com.
“There has been a lot of
debate about which framework, APIs and which interfaces should be there. So
while Linux has gained ground as the underlying kernel and the basic
framework for building applications there has been no consensus and in fact
there has been a trend toward fragmentation.”
The LiPS 1.0 specification release in part is an effort to help prevent
fragmentation by providing standards. Weinberg explained that the first set
of specifications included in LiPS 1.0 are focused on the most widely
applicable parts of mobile phone development, the core enablers for building
applications and core functionality that applies to the greatest set of
LiPS got started in November 2005 as a consortium of operators, device
makers, chipmakers and software specialists including PalmSource, France
Telecom/Orange, FSM Labs, Huawei, Jaluna, ARM, Cellon, Esmertec, MIZI
Research, MontaVista Software, Open-Plug and Trolltech.
Weinberg noted that,
until recently, LiPS had few, if any, full-time employees and was worked on as
a part-time operation for the companies involved.
Though Trolltech, the creator of the Qt open source GUI framework, is a member of LiPS, Qt
is not part of the core LiPS 1.0 specification for the user interface.
Instead, LiPS has gone the GNOME based GTK (GNOME Tool Kit) for its user
interface specification. Trolltech’s Qtopia, a mobile version of Qt,
is being used by Motorola and others in their Linux-powered mobile phones.
Haavard Nord, co-founder of Trolltech, disagrees.
According to Nord, the GTK user interface profile that LiPS includes in its
spec is a small piece of the overall mobile stack. Nord also noted that
Trolltech’s focus isn’t on specifications but is rather on real product
“For us what we really focus on is the portability of device type and
different OSes. We’ve seen a lot of
specifications that have never resulted in any products; we’ll see how LiPS
goes in the end,” Nord told internetnews.com.
Weinberg said there is a prevailing view that, while Qt is powerful and widely deployed,
the licensing makes it unsuitable for certain people’s view of how to build
an open device.
Qt is dual-licensed under the GPL and a commercial Trolltech license for
commercial use. Weinberg argued that Trolltech joined LiPS early on but they
actually have not invested the time or energy to do the lobbying that they
should be doing.